If there’s one characteristic most entrepreneurs share, it’s an ego large enough to provide them with the self-confidence needed to risk everything on a new business startup idea. Let’s face it: no one starts a business without first believing that he or she has what it takes to make that venture a success. No entrepreneur sets out to fail.
Still, most do fail. By some measures, more than half of all new startups fail within the first year, with an even larger percentage falling by the wayside over the course of the first several years. Obviously, ego alone is insufficient to guarantee that any new startup is sustainable over time.
In fact, your ego may be a ticking time bomb that could ultimately destroy everything you’re trying to build with your new company. There are three primary dangers involved with an oversized, unchecked ego, and all three should be avoided if you want to find the proper balance that will lead to sustained business success.
Overestimating Your Own Abilities
Given the statistics on new startup failure rates, you may be surprised to learn that the vast majority of entrepreneurs believe that there is almost no chance that their particular ventures will be anything other than successful. Almost without fail, startup owners honestly believe that they can overcome any challenge, beat any odds, and achieve the success they envision.
Don’t get me wrong; self-confidence is important. The problem is that many of these entrepreneurs doom themselves by mistakenly assuming that they have all the skills needed to ensure a successful outcome. The truth of the matter is that most have weaknesses that need to be corrected by teaming with others or acquiring new skill sets.
Never be so ego-driven that you fail to get the help you need to overcome your own weaknesses.
Underestimating the Competition
Another common ego-related problem occurs when an entrepreneur becomes so enamored of his own dynamic ideas that he fails to appreciate that his competitors are also talented. Some startup owners are just so convinced of their own superiority that they assume that the market will naturally gravitate toward them once they launch their companies.
The problem in this belief is that it fails to recognize that your competitors have often had years to hone their brands and business skills. They are usually not the defenseless marks that too many new entrepreneurs assume them to be.
To avoid this ego-related pitfall, you should always start with the basic understanding that your competitors are still in business for a reason. If they were truly as weak as you’d like to believe them to be, chances are you’d be facing no competition in your chosen market.
Remembering Why You Do What You Do
Finally, it is important to always remember the real reason you do what you do. Sure, it’s easy to get so caught up in your own brilliant plans that you forget why you started your business in the first place. That could, however, prove devastating to your chances for success.
Why, you ask? It’s simple: once your ego takes over the conversation, the first thing you’ll lose track of is the difference you’re trying to make in your customers’ lives. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the power of your ideas and forget all about your target market and their needs. And once you lose that balance between your need to prove your concept correct and your desire to satisfy a real market need, it’s incredibly difficult to regain that equilibrium.
By keeping your ego in check and in balance with your commitment to meeting your customers’ needs, you can maintain the self-confidence needed to succeed an avoid falling prey to some of the most common pitfalls that sink many startups. If you simply know your own limitations, maintain a healthy respect for your competitors, and continue to focus more on the customers than on your own brilliance, you can ensure that your ego remains a positive factor in your startup’s drive for success.